How will the Black Widow delay affect the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Scarlett Johansson’s solo movie has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic – but the interconnected nature of the MCU could mean other projects are pushed as well

Black Widow

After weeks of speculation, the sad but inevitable news has come – long-awaited Marvel movie Black Widow has been indefinitely postponed, another casualty of the growing coronavirus pandemic currently shutting cinemas and isolating audiences around the world.

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But could this shift be just the start of disruption for Marvel? While their other pre-announced titles on Disney+ and in cinemas are still some months away, the scale or length of the COVID-19 outbreak is currently unknown, and could continue to disrupt both production and release dates for months to come.

Which Marvel movies and TV shows are affected by coronavirus?

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier in Marvel's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney Plus
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier in Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney Plus

Already, the suspension of filming in the Czech Republic for Marvel’s first Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could mean the spin-off drama won’t make its planned August 2020 release date, and filming has also been postponed on Tom Hiddleston’s Loki series as well.

Upcoming martial arts drama Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings has also been halted, while yet-to-be begin-shooting series like Ms Marvel and She-Hulk will reportedly continue writing and pre-production remotely.

Which Marvel Disney+ series and movies have already been shot?

Marvel's WandaVision starring Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch
Marvel’s WandaVision starring Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch

Big-screen outing The Eternals (set for a November bow) and Disney+’s WandaVision (expected at the end of 2020) have both reportedly wrapped their productions already, meaning Marvel might be able to claw back something of a pop culture presence once people are free to go about their daily lives again.

On the other hand both these productions are far from finished, with a lot of postproduction and costly visual effects presumably planned before they’re delivered later this year, all of which may not be possible with VFX artists and editors working from home offices without the bulk of their professional equipment.

How will Black Widow’s delay affect other Marvel releases?

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 24: (L-R) Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Angelina Jolie, and Barry Keoghan of 'The Eternals' took part today in the Walt Disney Studios presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2019 in Anaheim, Calif. 'The Eternals' will be released in U.S. theaters on November 6, 2020. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
The cast of The Eternals at San Diego Comic-Con

Even if everything does go right and the wrapped series are able to be completed, there could still be a lot of delays as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s greatest strength – its overlapping continuity and love of crossovers – becomes its biggest weakness.

While Black Widow’s delay doesn’t necessarily mean any of the other Marvel films or TV shows would need to be moved as well, what if the film sets up a story point due to be followed up in The Eternals or Falcon and the Winter Soldier? Yes, Black Widow is a prequel, but it seems likely Marvel would have planned for some sort of tease for its Disney+ portfolio or future films in a traditional post-credits scene.

In short, it’s likely that a delay to Black Widow could mean that the release schedule planned for a whole host of movies might go up in smoke. If Black Widow had a tease for Falcon and Winter Soldier, which had a tease for Eternals, which had a tease for WandaVision (as a broad example), the house of cards collapses when Black Widow has to wait for months for a new release date.

Sure, it’s possible that there won’t be quite this level of crossover, and the release of a show or movie could be swapped around without too much fuss. But this is Marvel – it seems unlikely that all their upcoming projects aren’t tied together in some way.

When will Black Widow come out?

Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow solo movie 2020

Of course, it’s also worth noting that release dates are carefully selected for a reason, and it might be that Disney decide they’d be better off sticking to their current pattern and just knock every release down the line.

In other words, Black Widow could be released in The Eternals’ planned November slot, followed by The Falcon and Winter Soldier in late 2020 in place of WandaVision, and so on. This would mean planned crossovers and space between released could survive intact, even if it would mean a huge shift for the MCU overall.

For now, the future of Black Widow and Marvel as a whole remains in doubt, as with so much else in the pop culture landscape. Hopefully in the coming weeks and months we’ll have more clarity as to what we can expect but for now, the future is pretty murky.

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Black Widow will be released at a later date